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12/31/2012

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That last paragraph was a good last paragraph. The last sentence was a really good last sentence.

Now, I won't have anything to look forward to at work on Mondays, so I think I just won't go to work on Mondays.

AMDG

Thank you.

Happy to be of service.

I guess I just don't get it, but aren't there many Christians on the "progressive" side of things, like most of the Jesuits I know, for instance? Are they anti-Christian and anti-Religion?

Yup

Certainly. Like I said, I was painting with a broad brush--there are a lot of exceptions and anomalies. Also, it's not a matter of specific political positions, but a whole mind-set. However, to the extent that Christians ally or identify themselves with secular progressivism as a movement, I think they're making a mistake.

"Certainly" is a reply to your first question, Stu, not the second one.

Relevant factoid:

In Orleans Parish - which for those unfamiliar with the geography of New Orleans includes both Central City (known for having one of the highest murder rates in the city), and the Garden District (mansions of the upper-upper-middle-class) - 80.3% of voters chose Obama in the last election.

In Louisiana as a whole, Obama got 40.6% percent of the vote.

I don't know what this means for the future, but that kind of division can't be good.

No, and the thing is, people are digging in on the divisions, and ramping up the anger.

Also, given the fact that the general pattern has been that 95% or more of black people vote for Obama, that Orleans Parish number indicates that considerably fewer than 80% of the white people voted for Obama. You'd have to know the racial breakdown to have an idea of how many fewer.

One interesting thing is that if you look at the county-by-county breakdown nationwide, you'll find that B.O. was elected almost entirely as an urban president. He won in the cities, lost everywhere else. That's not a good sign either.

No, not at all a good sign.

In the cities, especially the bigger ones, is where you find the combination of rich white and poor non-white as majority. For both of those groups, the rest of America is a foreign country, frequently a hated and feared one.

This article says the big change is in the voting pattern of "dense inner suburbs":

"Although rural regions dominate the map of the contiguous United States, an overwhelming majority of Americans live in urban and suburban areas. Democrats have long dominated dense urban cores. But Democrats increasingly dominate dense inner suburbs—as opposed to sprawling outer suburbs, where Republicans still hold their own—as well, and the share of the population concentrated in dense suburban counties is steadily increasing. This is true not only among Latino, black, and Asian voters living in these communities, but of white voters as well."

And this is largely because voters in the inner suburbs now focus on things "like the quality of local public schools, traffic congestion, and whether or not they are climbing the economic ladder as fast as they’d like. Republicans are seen as staunch opponents of tax increases, but most middle-income households find that the tax burden is a less pressing issue than the cost of medical insurance or even the cost of commuting. Lisa Margonelli, author of Oil on the Brain, recently noted that a typical family of four earning $50,000 will spend $7,900 a year on cars and gasoline, a staggering sum that outweighs what this same family spends on taxes and medical care."

Anyway, worth a read.

That is interesting. "...John Judis and Ruy Teixeira referred to these communities as post-industrial “ideopolises,” in which economic life revolves around college-educated professionals working in knowledge-intensive services and the less-skilled workers who meet their various needs."

That sounds like these areas are simply extending the urban paradigm further out: affluent mostly white people and not-so-affluent, not-so-white service workers.

The point about the cost of cars and gasoline is very valid, but I don't really see how it favors either party. *Except* insofar as it becomes a demagogically exploitable thing, in which case it favors the Democrats.

There was a really interesting post at National Review Online a few days ago, which I couldn't hope to find now, in which one of their writers noted how many of his conservative Romney-supporting acquaintances felt that Romney is indeed, as the Democrats said, a guy who does not understand the middle class, the strains we face, etc. Obama doesn't either, but he's more adept at manipulating. Romney really was a pretty awful candidate in many respects, as were the other Republicans. If they weren't objectively awful, they were fatally flawed, from the national politics point of view, because so vulnerable to Democratic demagoguery, like Santorum.

The best piece I read about the debacle was this one by James Kurth. He said that the economics of Republicanism had become pseudo-conservative in economics (Friedman instead of Hayek - I didn't know they were different),pseudo-conservative in foreign policy (neo-con, interventionist), and pseudo-conservative in social ethics (all talk, no action). One could disagree with many points in the argument, especially what he says about immigration, butit's an interesting piece.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:2VSpDc0iN0UJ:www.fpri.org/docs/Kurth_-_Crisis_of_American_Conservatism.pdf+kurth+foreign+policy+pseudo+conservative&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESg5CYcperi4Am0FR4zqSsDbXWq_xS_giFdJNafuBJRjkCM2oEuqtOMeCUNTirWbTPdM6LG0gFOKSAJwCXPgq1dy9DS0SDyOKrH-f_Yj1rTfQgUE64pcWNqPkbNvh09YFO4MnNS7&sig=AHIEtbSMjCgRJIh2of1nHPycO-71GDdbQw

I can't believe that taxes for a family of four making $50K could be significantly less than $7,500. They have to pay about $3,600 in SSN Tax before they even begin to pay Income Tax. You can economize on cars and gas, but not on taxes.

AMDG

I'm in a hurry, but just briefly: I keep reading this figure from conservatives that some huge percentage of people, over 40%, don't pay any net federal income tax. I don't know if that's true or not. Still, even if it's only ("only") a couple of thousand, those are not the only taxes.

About that diagnosis of conservatism, I don't have time to read it now, but I pretty much agree with your summary, except I don't know the difference between Friedman and Hayek either.

But she (Lisa Margonelli) specifically cited a family of 4 with an income of $50,000. They definitely pay tax.

AMDG

I finally took the trouble to track down the source of that claim about 40-plus% paying no income tax. It appears to be this. According to this, the pay-no-income-tax threshold is somewhere around $45,000, depending on number of children. I don't even know what "child tax credit" refers to but it seems to be something beyond the standard child deduction.

But I have many times heard right-wingers say "40% [46%, whatever] of the population pays no taxes," rather than "no income tax," and build a huge, and frankly somewhat repulsive, myth about "freeloaders" based on that. When it may be true that they pay little to no *income* tax, as you say there's that 7.5% right off the top. So $50,000 gross income = $3,750 in SS tax, which is just barely less than half of the $7900. Even if they *don't* pay any income tax, if you added up all the other taxes (property, sales, etc.) it would probably bring that somewhere into the same neighborhood as the transportation expense. And as you said there's no negotiating that.

The $7900 does seem high to me. I think I spend roughly $2500 a year on gas (just me, not me & wife), and I probably drive more than most people--minimum 250-300 miles per week just getting back and forth to work, plus my car requires premium gas and gets only about 25mpg. But that's more than compensated for by the fact that it's paid for. And while I think 25mpg is pretty poor mileage, it's apparently better than a lot of those SUVs and pickups that so many people drive. I strongly suspect that many or most people *could* spend considerably less on cars & gas, but are determined to have a big new car. And don't want to change their driving habits.

$50k is not what it once was and the concept that a family of four on this modest income might be seen by some as "freeloaders" is appalling.

And they are hardly "freeloaders" if they are responsibly bringing up the next generation.

We drove to (and from) a party in Germany yesterday. There not being a speed limit on the Autobahn does make it rather expensive.

Well, they typically meant "freeloaders" in the narrow context of the income tax. Still, it's pretty offensive. The Republicans in general have been utterly incapable of creating the impression that they understand the stresses, financial and otherwise, on families below, roughly, the median income. Since by definition that's half the families, that's a lot of people. Many of them probably do, and in general have more genuine sympathy for those people than do rich liberals, but they don't communicate it. Paul Ryan, for all his Rand-fan-ness, might be an exception--both in impression and reality.

To hear some right-wingers (I resist calling them conservatives) talk, you would think that 46% are all on welfare.

Believe me, I know exactly what $50K is, and what you pay in taxes.

AMDG

Well, our family earning $50K should have economized on their cars, and paid more attention to their taxes.

The Act does not extend the "payroll tax holiday," so the employee Social Security tax rate will go from 4.2 percent back to 6.2 percent up to the 2013 taxable wage limit of $113,700. As a result, a worker earning $50,000 per year will now see $1,000 less in their net take-home pay as compared to 2012.

AMDG

Are you saying this has come as a surprise? You must not read enough right-wing blogs.:-)

Somehow Obama left this out when he was crowing about having prevented a middle-class tax increase. It's been explained away by his supporters as not really a tax increase, just a restoration of a previous rate. But that's what would have happened with income tax, too--taxes would have gone back to where they were before Bush's "tax cuts for the rich."

Yeah, I think it comes down to resentment of beauty. And resentment of beauty is easier to hide than resentment of, say, intelligence or courage. One hides it under some virtue.

An obviously misplaced comment!

Yes, I assumed so--and not that you had suddenly come to share Ayn Rand's views about the envy-driven urge to tax the rich and beautiful.:-)

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